Sequels strife

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Frogboy
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Frogboy » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:56 pm

Death 999 wrote:
Frogboy wrote:I realize I will always appear the bad guy here. I'm the one posting after all.
You're also the one making utterly unsupportable trademark claims way beyond what you ever bought.
As unsupportable as trying to cancel what we obviously bought?

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Death 999
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Death 999 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:54 am

Frogboy wrote:
Death 999 wrote:
Frogboy wrote:I realize I will always appear the bad guy here. I'm the one posting after all.
You're also the one making utterly unsupportable trademark claims way beyond what you ever bought.
As unsupportable as trying to cancel what we obviously bought?
That isn't as obvious, actually.

You have your perspective, and you think you have one set of things and they have another. They have their perspective, and they think that you have a different set of things, and they have another. At one point, both sides thought the other had overreached, and they themselves had not.

But somehow we get to the point where your defense of what you've done is that what you did is not more unreasonable by your own standards than what they did… by your own standards. It's like,

Alice: I ought to get 20 and you ought to get 20.
Bob: I did more work, so I should get 30 and you should get 10.
Alice: No you didn't - screw that! I should get 30!

Alice hasn't even begun to justify her getting 30, here.

krulle
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:05 am

And we do not know who is Bob, and who is Alice....

Some jury and judge must consider the arguments brought forward, and decide this, apparently.

Pity, that money would've been much better spent elsewhere.
But makes for good discussions.

Frogboy wrote:
Death 999 wrote:You're also the one making utterly unsupportable trademark claims way beyond what you ever bought.
As unsupportable as trying to cancel what we obviously bought?
Well, when you bought the trademark, you knew how inactive the actual use was. There was always the risk that someone thought it could be "deactivated", and be put to "better use"...
Yes, you've bought the registration. But with all risks of the trademark being found to be inactive, and thus "not legal anymore".
Well, since you publicly started developing a new game using the name Star Control, obviously the registration you have is now strong enough.
Even if not, your new registration for the name should in any case prevail, IMHO.
(However unhappy I personally am that the name does not revert back to public domain, so that the UQM project could use it.)

Also, for the record, so far I do think you might be overreaching, but you're no bad guy.
You're fighting for your project. And within that also for your employees.
That is your right. And actually also your obligation. So please continue.
But taking a step back and looking at the image of what your actions create might also help.
Registering trademark for which you so far had no use, and publicly announced that the IP behind this trademark does not belong to you, nor you wanting to use it, makes your actions look like a "trademark registration troll", someone who registers loads of trademarks in the hope that someone needs to buy him out of it.
The broadside attacks on the IP which Atari seems to have seen with FF and PR also gives the impression that your intention is to financially push the other party into an abyss, so that they need to stop defending themselves due to a lack of money.
Neither action helps your actual point, that FF and PR may have leaned too much on the trademarked terminology "Star Control" when they announced they would create a "true sequel".



dangit. I wanted to stay away from these discussions a bit.
Doing all this in public does not help either case, and actually seems to cement frontiers even more.
I need to learn more self-control.

Pity that the UQM-forums are down. But then, discussing this in one less place is also better (for me).

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vok3
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:02 pm

Frogboy wrote:
Death 999 wrote:
Frogboy wrote:I realize I will always appear the bad guy here. I'm the one posting after all.
You're also the one making utterly unsupportable trademark claims way beyond what you ever bought.
As unsupportable as trying to cancel what we obviously bought?
It's been pointed out to you before, but their DMCA was in response to Stardock selling and distributing the games without their permission. You stated that you needed any evidence at all that they actually had the rights they were claiming; the email chain with Atari and GOG provided that evidence, yet you continue to sell the games - making your claim that you needed "even just a simple email" measurably untrue. Requesting that the trademark be invalidated is therefore a plausible defense against what they see as Stardock's infringement of their rights over their property.

You've also made measurably false statements - in your post on the UQM boards on March 20 where you break down the case into three parts, you describe the IP aspect as "murky" and "irrelevant" because you weren't using the IP anyway. And yet on March 18 you posted on your own forums that Stardock's position had changed and that you absolutely were going to use the IP whether Reiche & Ford approved or not. Those two statements cannot both be true, and I know which one I'd bet on - and when taking things like this into account, the counterclaim and attack on the trademark make a lot more sense.

You've very carefully failed to make note of any of this and keep talking trademark as though the value is in what you own rather than what they've produced and to which they retain rights. The trademark is of close to zero value without the Reiche IP, and therefore they cannot benefit by associating themselves with you, and you should stop making noises to the contrary.

Yes, they should not have said "a direct sequel to Star Control". Yes, that deserves a slap on the wrist. And yes, they changed their announcement accordingly when it was pointed out. There absolutely is a pattern of behavior here: of Reiche & Ford taking the steps to demonstrate good faith, and Stardock making ever-increasing demands.

All of Stardock's actions throughout this have been consistent with a realization on Stardock's part that the Reiche IP is what is valuable and to try associate Stardock by hook or by crook with it. Every single statement and action I have seen from Reiche & Ford has been consistent with justifiable outrage when confronted with criminal behavior.

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Frogboy » Thu Mar 22, 2018 2:52 pm

The valuable part, for us, has been the Star Control brand.

That is why Paul and Fred have continually tried to associate with it.

And their legal position has been consistent, regardless of your public interpretations: Their game will be marketed as a direct sequel to Star Control II.

You can't have it both ways. If the Star Control brand wasn't valuable, and I note that we are on a site called Star-Control and not "Paul and Reiche's universe", then they would not be trying to associate with it.

As you say, they should get a "slap on the wrist" for having launched and cemented their game in the minds of fans as the TRUE sequel to Star Control. What should that "slap on the wrist" entail?

Well, for one thing, they could have just quit kvetching about the DOS games and let them continue to be sold as they had been continuously for years. Instead, they made it crystal clear to us that they wanted to make sure we were not associated with "THEIR" game (Star Control). Except, that is not how trademarks work. That's why there was a bidding war to get the Star Control trademark at the auction. There is no sharing of trademarks. Literally. There is even a term for those that try it: Trademark dilution. It's illegal.

If Paul and Fred had, for example, come out and named their game "Ur-Quan Masters II: Ghosts of the Precursors" and not associated it with Star Control we wouldn't be here. And if they decided that they didn't want the old DOS games being sold at that point, we would have complied. Not because we agreed with them but out of deference just like we removed Super-Melee from Star Control: Origins.

But that's not what they did. They didn't accidentally do that. They knew, very well, BEFORE the announcement that we were very concerned about any confusion. Their position has been that their game will be made as an official, direct sequel to Star Control II and that continues, to this day, to be their legal position.

And in addition to that: Each correspondence would up the ante on what they think in Star Control: Origins violates their rights. First it was Super-Melee (the word). Then it was the little Spathi trinket in the background of an alien scene. Then it was the ship designer. Then it was the look of the Earthling ship. Then it was demands that we police the community. Some of the members here were listed as people violating their rights due to your fan art that was posted on online. Then it was the demand that we actively police Steam workshop for sketches or ship designs they didn't like. Then it was the concept of Star Control itself.

This all then climaxes with their filing of DMCAs not just of Star Control 1,2 but also Star Control 3. Now, I've seen people argue in this very forum that they had a right to do that against Star Control 3 (And actually, no, they didn't, not against any of them actually which is why their DMCA claim failed). The argument being that Star Control 3 contained IP from Star Control 2. Well, that argument could be used against Star Control: Origins. What stops them from filing a DMCA on Star Control: Origins the week of launch because, I dunno, they decide that the Tywom look too much like one of the aliens in Star Control II? Or that they think we have to remove our ship designer. That move would ruin us.

So that is where things stood in December:

1. They had already done something that even the fans agree they shouldn't have done: Claim their game was a direct sequel to Star Control II, complete with the *literal* box that was used by Accolade as their trademark sample (could you get any more blatant than that?) and the claim that THEY, not Accolade, released Star Control.

You guys agree: They should get some "slap on the wrist". Ok? How about they stop doing it and just let the old games continue to be sold and work with us in the future to avoid such misunderstandings. How about we even throw in that we would put in writing that their aliens and characters and lore are exclusively theirs and no license exists? Because that's what we offered.

2. Their official, legal position was that Ghosts was going to be an official sequel to Star Control II.

Image

That was their position. November.

3. They had engaged in a series of very public attacks on us because we hadn't taken the games down. It should be noted, as others have noted, that Paul and Fred claim that Stardock doesn't even have the agreement with GOG. Paul and Fred do. So how is it our fault that it's up on GOG right now? Stardock added it to Steam for the 25th anniversary but it had been up on Steam (you an check the original submission date) for years. We were waiting for the 25th anniversary to post it. But do the dozens of sales on Steam a week justify their public PR attacks on us while they are simultaneously promoting their game as the "true" sequel to Star Control?

So that's where things stood before any lawsuits were filed.

As for the mess since and the trademarking. Our position is, especially after their attempt to cancel our trademark, which is not a "weak" trademark, it's on file and i's been in continual use and has been re-registered continuously since the 90s, is that no games related to Star Control are going to be released without our permission.

The average consumer doesn't know or care who Paul Reiche III is. They know of Star Control and any future games that want to be associated with the Star Control franchise need our license. Thus, if Paul and Fred or anyone else wants to make something that people associate with Star Control they will need our license just as if we wanted to use the lore, characters and setting from Star Control II we would need Paul's license.

You can see, at various points, how easy this would have been to resolve. Now? A lot more damage has been done and even attempts at settlement end up with them posting misleading representations of what was in there (the apology demand was particularly galling, not only would it be petty to ask industry legends to apologize but it would be a terrible PR idea).

I realize that is long. But there you have it.
Last edited by Frogboy on Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

krulle
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:24 pm

Thank You.
I'll consider this, and keep it in mind.
But since I have nothing new to add, without becoming repetitive, I'll stop my post here.

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vok3
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Re: Sequels strife

Post by vok3 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:00 pm

Frogboy wrote:The valuable part, for us, has been the Star Control brand.

That is why Paul and Fred have continually tried to associate with it.

And their legal position has been consistent, regardless of your public interpretations: Their game will be marketed as a direct sequel to Star Control II.
If they insist on those specific terms then you have a case. I haven't seen anything in the publicized statements that supports this claim, yet.
You can't have it both ways. If the Star Control brand wasn't valuable, and I note that we are on a site called Star-Control and not "Paul and Reiche's universe", then they would not be trying to associate with it.
But this is why the IP dispute is actually important. What IS Star Control, specifically? What does the trademark represent? If Paul Reiche's claims that all rights regarding the IP have reverted to him are correct, what is there that is still attached to the trademark?

This site is named for Star Control because that's the name under which many of us encountered it. The "other board" is UQM because that's the name that was available when that project happened. Both sites refer to essentially the same thing: the setting, gameplay, and writing of the game that was sold as "Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters". Reiche's IP claims are that all of that actually belongs to him.
Well, for one thing, they could have just quit kvetching about the DOS games and let them continue to be sold as they had been continuously for years.
Right here you verge back into full dishonesty again. Answer my earlier question: if I take a dollar out of your wallet without permission, do you shrug and say "it's just a dollar"?

It's not kvetching if Stardock does not have the right to make sale and distribution arrangements but does so anyway. It is very apparent to me that this incident was the trigger for all of this blowing up. You keep trying to shrug it off like it doesn't matter that they are convinced they have certain rights, they have documentary evidence backing that up, and yet Stardock wants to dispose of their property without asking them and describes objections as "kvetching" that should just stop.

This, more than anything else, makes me think their accusation that Stardock is trying to usurp the IP rights might have real merit. Because you absolutely refuse to address the simple and obvious action that Stardock took in direct contradiction to what appears to be fairly solid evidence on their part.
Instead, they made it crystal clear to us that they wanted to make sure we were not associated with "THEIR" game (Star Control).
If at some point I see documentary evidence where they refer to their new game as being explicitly Star Control, then I will believe you. Until then - and especially given the emerging pattern, including the DMCA/Steam sales issue - I find it fairly likely you are mischaracterizing the situation.
If Paul and Fred had, for example, come out and named their game "Ur-Quan Masters II: Ghosts of the Precursors" and not associated it with Star Control we wouldn't be here.
First of all, they didn't name it "Star Control III". Second, I've asked this question of you before but you didn't answer: are they not allowed to ever mention in any context that they worked on Star Control 2? Are they not allowed to discuss their past work in discussing a future project?

Because if your answer is "No, they can't" I'm going to simply disbelieve anything else you say on this topic. I've worked in games myself, I've seen enough cases of people moving around between companies and starting new or related projects, and while such a claim might look plausible with the right cherry-picked arguments, in the real world it doesn't work that way. Chris Roberts and his employees talked incessantly about Wing Commander; the ~$200 million pile of nonsense that is Star Citizen was built entirely on the Wing Commander reputation; EA Legal did not find cause to sue. That's merely the biggest example, there's plenty of others. Reiche & Ford are on solid ground here.
And if they decided that they didn't want the old DOS games being sold at that point, we would have complied. Not because we agreed with them but out of deference just like we removed Super-Melee from Star Control: Origins.
Except that, according to the documentation they've provided - and which you have not (publicly) countered in any way - it's not your decision. It's not a question of deference or politeness. You simply do not have the legal ability to do anything with those games without their say-so, and you keep ignoring this very basic fact. You need to stop doing that.
And in addition to that: Each correspondence would up the ante on what they think in Star Control: Origins violates their rights. First it was Super-Melee (the word). Then it was the little Spathi trinket in the background of an alien scene. Then it was the ship designer. Then it was the look of the Earthling ship. Then it was demands that we police the community. Some of the members here were listed as people violating their rights due to your fan art that was posted on online. Then it was the demand that we actively police Steam workshop for sketches or ship designs they didn't like. Then it was the concept of Star Control itself.
Given that fan art here has a long-running history with absolutely zero problems from them, as well as assorted fan clones of the game with also zero problems (I worked on one for a couple years, had a few interactions with them, zero problems), until I see the actual correspondence (and I realize you are under no obligation to release it) I am going to assume you are incompletely or inaccurately characterizing the situation, as what you describe is completely out of their prior pattern of behavior.
This all then climaxes with their filing of DMCAs not just of Star Control 1,2 but also Star Control 3. Now, I've seen people argue in this very forum that they had a right to do that against Star Control 3 (And actually, no, they didn't, not against any of them actually which is why their DMCA claim failed). The argument being that Star Control 3 contained IP from Star Control 2. Well, that argument could be used against Star Control: Origins. What stops them from filing a DMCA on Star Control: Origins the week of launch because, I dunno, they decide that the Tywom look too much like one of the aliens in Star Control II? Or that they think we have to remove our ship designer. That move would ruin us.
This whole paragraph is deliberately deceptive. "Spathi" is clearly part of the IP developed in Star Control 2. The ship was clearly included in the screenshot. Actual identity and mere resemblance are not in any way equivalent, and courts are entirely capable of distinguishing between the two. Compare "The Orville" with Star Trek. Orville is obviously LIKE Star Trek, but it IS not Star Trek. Similarly the Origins universe can be LIKE the Ur-Quan universe without BEING the Ur-Quan universe. This is very basic stuff, and anybody well versed in IP would be completely aware of it. Fearmongering about them ruining you on the basis something like this is completely unjustified.
1. They had already done something that even the fans agree they shouldn't have done: Claim their game was a direct sequel to Star Control II, complete with the *literal* box that was used by Accolade as their trademark sample (could you get any more blatant than that?) and the claim that THEY, not Accolade, released Star Control.
I refer you to my previous question: are they not ever allowed to refer to past work they've done? Because that seems to be your position, and it is an absolutely untenable one. As for what they said about who released it, that's you pointing at a shiny thing and hoping it distracts people. It's absolutely irrelevant.
You guys agree: They should get some "slap on the wrist". Ok? How about they stop doing it and just let the old games continue to be sold and work with us in the future to avoid such misunderstandings.
And once again you try to breeze past the fact that Stardock is, according to publicly available evidence, arrogating rights to itself which it does not actually have. You yourself stated repeatedly that if any evidence was provided that they had control over distribution, you'd immediately comply with their requests. Evidence was provided yet Stardock hasn't changed its behavior.
How about we even throw in that we would put in writing that their aliens and characters and lore are exclusively theirs and no license exists? Because that's what we offered.
Once again, I would need to see the specific wording of the email exchange - and once again I realize you are under no obligation to provide it - before believing this claim. You have, for example, previously claimed that you offered to transfer everything Star Control-related to them at your cost; this was true but misleading, as their position is that you've bought nothing of any great value to them, and their counterclaim refers to multiple occasions when you agreed with their statements that the IP rights had fully reverted and were not included in the sale.
2. Their official, legal position was that Ghosts was going to be an official sequel to Star Control II.
That was their position. November.
Once again, I would want to see context. The quoted text does not indicate that they intend to sell it as "Star Control". It does refer to the game that everybody here knows as Star Control 2, and states that they're making a sequel to it. Is it your position that they are never allowed to refer to the title under which that game was sold?
3. They had engaged in a series of very public attacks on us because we hadn't taken the games down.
Stop beating this drum. As I've described above, Stardock very clearly appears to be in the wrong on that matter. There is no sympathy to be gained by pointing out that they were attacking you as a result of your company doing something wrong.

As for GOG, they're pretty clearly going with the prevailing wind and waiting for the courts to sort things out.
As for the mess since and the trademarking. Our position is, especially after their attempt to cancel our trademark, which is not a "weak" trademark, it's on file and i's been in continual use and has been re-registered continuously since the 90s, is that no games related to Star Control are going to be released without our permission.
That's great.

What, specifically, is Star Control?

You want the trademark to include the value of their IP. Their position is that it does not include that. That's why there's a court case.
You can see, at various points, how easy this would have been to resolve.
What I can see is that they changed their announcement to remove the "Star Control 2" reference and to add your trademark, and I can see that you're still selling games which Atari agreed Reiche & Ford had control over, and I can see that you don't want them ever using the words "Star Control" in any context, and I can see that you've made multiple statements at various times on the licensing and IP issues which are their primary complaint and that many of those statements contradict each other.
Now? A lot more damage has been done and even attempts at settlement end up with them posting misleading representations of what was in there (the apology demand was particularly galling, not only would it be petty to ask industry legends to apologize but it would be a terrible PR idea).
Are you claiming that was falsified? Because there is a big difference between selective quoting and outright falsification.

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by Frogboy » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:43 pm

I clearly don't know how to use this forum because I have no idea how you are able to use the quoting system so well.

Please bare with me:
If they insist on those specific terms then you have a case. I haven't seen anything in the publicized statements that supports this claim, yet.
That is because we haven't been trying to litigate this in public. And we still aren't. This is just one small sample, unedited, of their position.
But this is why the IP dispute is actually important. What IS Star Control, specifically? What does the trademark represent? If Paul Reiche's claims that all rights regarding the IP have reverted to him are correct, what is there that is still attached to the trademark?
Only things they owned can be reverted to them by definition. Many things in the agreement survive termination. You can read it for yourself.

But what is Star Control? It is, quite literally, whatever a reasonable person associates with it. When push comes to shove, that can be made very explicit legally.
Right here you verge back into full dishonesty again. Answer my earlier question: if I take a dollar out of your wallet without permission, do you shrug and say "it's just a dollar"?
Except it's not dishonest.

In October we had two things in our possession: A signed contract with GOG that Atari transferred to us AND Paul and Fred's confirmation that we had these rights:

Image

And all of this had been legally reviewed.

If you want to measure things in dollars, the damage they did by pawning off on the Star Control mark is vastly vastly greater. By contrast, the DOS games available causes no damage whatsoever. They get the royalty they've been getting for years.
This site is named for Star Control because that's the name under which many of us encountered it. The "other board" is UQM because that's the name that was available when that project happened. Both sites refer to essentially the same thing: the setting, gameplay, and writing of the game that was sold as "Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters". Reiche's IP claims are that all of that actually belongs to him.
Now who's being dishonest? It's called that because that is the name of the game. Change the aliens, story, etc. and it would still be called that.

You can't just hand wave the value of the brand name. It's what people identify the game from. The fan base for the specific story told in Star Control II is miniscule.
If at some point I see documentary evidence where they refer to their new game as being explicitly Star Control, then I will believe you. Until then - and especially given the emerging pattern, including the DMCA/Steam sales issue - I find it fairly likely you are mischaracterizing the situation.
Referring to their new game as a sequel to Star Control is a flagrant IP violation. If you can't see that then there's nothing more to discuss. Trademarks aren't domain names where it's about reserving the name for a product. It's about preventing consumer confusion. And there are endless examples of people being confused into thinking that they were getting "Two Star Control games" or "Oh good, there's a REAL Star Control game".

Paul and Fred could have talked endlessly about their work on Star Control. But like Chris Roberts, they can't describe it as a sequel. They cannot try to create an official association between the two products. If Chris Roberts had called Star Citizen a sequel to Wing Commander, EA would have obliterated him.
You simply do not have the legal ability to do anything with those games without their say-so, and you keep ignoring this very basic fact. You need to stop doing that.
No, you need to quit stating your opinion as a fact. The court will decide that matter.
This whole paragraph is deliberately deceptive. "Spathi" is clearly part of the IP developed in Star Control 2.
Yes. Star Control 2, a trademark of Accolade. It is associated, like you just mentioned, with Star Control. Even you just admitted this. You can't copyright a word.
I refer you to my previous question: are they not ever allowed to refer to past work they've done?
Of course they can. But they cannot create new things and associate it with someone else's IP without their license.
And once again you try to breeze past the fact that Stardock is, according to publicly available evidence, arrogating rights to itself which it does not actually have. You yourself stated repeatedly that if any evidence was provided that they had control over distribution, you'd immediately comply with their requests. Evidence was provided yet Stardock hasn't changed its behavior.
I already posted examples of reasons Stardock has every reason to believe it has the right to distribute the DOS games.

They have posted on their blog, in March or whatever, what they claim is an email between Atari and GOG. They have not provided any of this to us, mind you. We read it at the same time you have. There is no affidavit attached to it. It has not been submitted to the court. I will say if they had provided that to us back before the lawyers were involved, we would have taken the games down. Not because we think it proves a legal point but because it would have been "good enough" in an effort to placate them. Just like we removed "Super-Melee" from the game to placate them. It wasn't worth fighting about.
Once again, I would want to see context. The quoted text does not indicate that they intend to sell it as "Star Control". It does refer to the game that everybody here knows as Star Control 2, and states that they're making a sequel to it. Is it your position that they are never allowed to refer to the title under which that game was sold?
They are not entitled to market or promote their game as being associated with Star Control. Calling it a sequel is absolutely most definitely doing that. This is IP 101 stuff.
What, specifically, is Star Control?

You want the trademark to include the value of their IP. Their position is that it does not include that. That's why there's a court case.
The trademark covers the good will and reputation associated with Star Control. If your product or service confuses a reasonable consumer that it is related to Star Control then it is a violation of the mark. Period. That's the law.

We were not only willing to coexist with Paul and Fred's new game, we were excited about it.

But let me give you a little piece of advice, Vok. If you want to get your way on something in life, it is better to use kindness and reason rather than malice and hostility. I've been through a lot of these over the years. The best thing Paul and Fred could have done was to approach their goal with kindness and reason.

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by krulle » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:04 pm

small post before the big answer: on reddit someone posted you can still access the UQM forum threads, it's apparently the "front side" that's broken.

The "my take on Stardock" thread on UQM can still be accessed directly, e.g. via: http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?top ... 4#msg77074

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Re: Sequels strife

Post by palmpet » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:55 pm

The trademark covers the good will and reputation associated with Star Control.
I may be misinterpreting but it sounds as if you think just having the name gives you all the good will associated with it.
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